Irish Eyes are Smilin’
- David Ginisi
Step dancers, Leprechauns. And maybe, just maybe, a pot o’ gold at the end of a rainbow? Anything is possible when St. Patty’s Day comes to North Central Massachusetts! It’s been said that everyone’s Irish on St. Patrick’s Day, and that’s easy to believe with the flurry of activity and the joyful wearin’ of the green here. Clinton, to be sure, is the center of this March celebration – for it’s in that quiet mill town that the Leprechauns gather for their Society’s parade and annual convention. The wee folk, of course, can be difficult to see when they march (or maybe, dance) from the Elks Hall to Town Hall to begin their official gathering. The parade begins at noon on Saturday, March 16 – and it takes the week fold only about a quarter of an hour to make the trek to their convention spot. But if you’re waiting patiently for them to arrive, don’t worry! The Mulligan Irish Stew Band will keep you entertained and on your best behavior.
The Convention, you know, is serious business, even if it doesn’t last too long. By 1 pm, everyone will be ready for the post-Convention celebration sponsored by the Ancient Order of Hibernians at the Elks Hall, anxious to enjoy a corned beef dinner and music by the Brennan Bothers Irish Band.
But the day is not simply filled with frivolity. “The Leprechauns”, says Chief Leprechaun Mark O’Toole, “are anxious to honor the noble deeds of common men and women who perform unselfish community services, serve our country, state, or community”. To that end, the Leprechauns present and annual “Shillelagh Award” to a deserving local resident. The Society, says O’Toole – better known around town simply as “Himself” – also makes donations to local charitable organizations. To wrap up the weekend in Clinton, a St. Patty’s Day Community Breakfast will be held on Sunday morning at St/ John’s Gym, with revenue going to John’s Care Food Pantry to assist those in need.
But There’s More!
While the St. Pat’s activities tend to center around the March 17 weekend, the holiday is such a big deal here that it actually beings a week earlier. On March 9, the Third Annual Irish Night & Scholarship Awards, sponsored by the Clinton Exchange Club, will be held at Clinton Town Hall. The evening’s program will feature talented Clinton Irish performers – from the Clinton Irish Step Dancers to singers Paul McNally and his entire band will provide dance music, too, if you want to kick your heels a bit. The evening also features the presentation of scholarships by the newly renamed Clinton Community Scholarship Program, managed by the Clinton Leprechaun Society and the Clinton Exchange Club.
Far and Wide:
Although Clinton is the epicenter of local St. Pat’s action, other communities aren’t ignoring the great green fest. Saturday, March 9, is Firefighters Emerald Society’s Irish Night at the Fitchburg Senior Center. On Thursday, March 14, Irish Step Dancers will perform at the Gardner Museum, 28 Pearl St., Gardner. Irish step dance has its roots in traditional Irish dance, and is generally characterized by a stiff upper body and quick and precise movements of the feet. You’ll be fascinated by Anne O’Connell’s Irish Step Dancers! On Sunday, March 17, the Leominster Library, will host a Kate Chadbourne Irish Music Concert at 2 pm. And the Old Mill Restaurant in Westminster wraps up the Irish theme with “The Wake of Timothy O’Toole” – a murder mystery dinner – on Friday, March 22. Sure, and it’s a great time to be Irish – or to just join in the fun!
*For details about these events, along with contact information for reservations, see the Calendar section of this issue of The Guide.